This book truly surpassed my expectations ... This immersive, gripping psychological suspense novel tackles topics of abusive relationships and emotional trauma with compassion and skill—a direct reflection of author Rena Olsen’s professional expertise ... We, the readers, see so clearly the reality of Clara’s situation, and we feel deeply for her ... It’s simultaneously heartbreaking and infuriating, and I was glued to the pages.
Olsen takes a small step backward with her sophomore novel, if only because it doesn’t deliver the same pulse-pounding suspense that she flashed before. Julia isn’t nearly as fleshed out as her last protagonist, and the story develops slower ... the plot is a touch shallow, and readers may struggle to relate to and embrace Julia, which makes the hell she goes through less impactful overall ... the final act ramps things up and shows what Olsen can do, making her a name to watch moving forward ... Rena Olsen’s With You Always packs a meaningful, important message.
Ms. Olsen’s descriptions of the abuse Julia suffers feels completely real. In fact, I had to put the book down a few times to give myself a break from all the emotions the story brought up ... The plot didn’t go where I thought it would; things happened that I never saw coming ... I want to make it clear that this is not a mystery in the traditional sense in that we know who the bad guys are right from the start. Even so, I was gripped ... I could go on and on about the excellence of this novel, but I’ll spare you more of my rhapsodizing and just urge you to pick With You Always up at your earliest convenience.
Readers will cringe as they turn the pages in hopes that Julia gets out before it’s too late to reclaim herself and her life ... A somewhat predictable yet compulsively readable story of a woman in way over her head.
...a tale of domestic abuse set in rural New York that suffers from a predictable plot, a bland female narrator, and abusive characters who behave in stereotypical ways ... Tense snippets of story that share bits of Bryce’s childhood or telegraph Julia’s final acts aren’t enough to build complexity, and Olsen’s depiction of Julia’s mental state rarely evokes the depth of conflicted feelings or fear that would make the novel affecting.